Poetry Shelf Monday Poem: Erik Kennedy’s ‘We’re Nice to Each Other After the Trauma’

We’re Nice to Each Other After the Trauma

Christchurch, after 15 March 2019

We’re nice to each other after the trauma.

It’s emotional labour spent in a good cause,

like signing a birthday card at work or volunteering

to clean a beach. In the geography of care

the grieving city is bright, busy, sensitive

to extraordinary needs, able to flex and soothe.

It’s one of a series of temporary truths,

a glimpse of something not quite representative

that we wish could stay once it’s there.

We wish we couldn’t see it disappearing

into routine, because we were desolately happy because

we were nice to each other after the trauma.

Erik Kennedy

Erik Kennedy is the author of There’s No Place Like the Internet in Springtime (Victoria University Press, 2018), and he is co-editing a book of climate change poetry from Aotearoa New Zealand and the Pacific forthcoming from Auckland University Press later in 2021. His poems, stories, and criticism have recently been published in places like FENCE, Hobart, Maudlin House, Poetry, Poetry Ireland Review, the TLS, and Western Humanities Review. Originally from New Jersey, he lives in Christchurch, New Zealand.

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